Why ban fur farming and farmed fur products across the EU?

The scientific and ethical cases are clear. More than 1.5 million citizens signed the European Citizens’ Initiative calling for a Fur Free Europe. It’s time for the Commission to listen and make fur history.


The complex behavioural needs of wild animal species, such as foxes and mink, that are farmed for fur cannot be met in fur farms. Keeping animals in small cages and killing them solely, or mainly, because of the value of their fur cannot be legitimised for domestic species like rabbits and chinchillas either. Fur farming is unethical no matter where it occurs, and so we also call for a ban on selling fur derived from intensive fur production.

The science is clear. The confinement on fur farms prevents animals from expressing their natural behaviour and causes severe animal welfare problems – such as self-mutilation and infected wounds.

Read more:
Fur Farming
Public Opinion
Fur Free Retailer


Fur farms pose a risk to animal and human health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of mink farms were affected by coronavirus outbreaks, and new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were found to have been transmitted to humans from animals, risking vaccine efficacy. Outbreaks of avian flu avian flu outbreaks have also occurred in a number of EU member states in 2023, with hundreds of thousands of fur farmed animals slaughtered on Finnish fur farms after serious avian flu outbreaks in recent months.

Read more:
Heather Pickett public health report (2022)
Covid-19 on mink farms


Fur farming has a significant environmental impact and it poses a serious threat to native biodiversity. Having escaped from fur farms, the American mink is now widespread throughout the EU and has caused significant adverse impacts on European native wildlife.

The dressing and dyeing of fur involves the use of toxic chemicals. In terms of land pollution by toxic metals, fur dressing and dyeing is ranked in the top five highest pollution-intensity industries.

Read more:
The environmental cost of fur (Respect for Animals, 2021)
The negative impact of fur farming on the environment (Fur Free Alliance)


Fur farming, a minor agricultural sector, employs less than 4000 workers in the EU, accounting for less than 0.002% of the total EU workforce. Most fur farm workers engage in this activity part-time. The closure of fur farms hasn’t led to significant unemployment, as support measures and retraining programs help transition workers into sustainable businesses. For instance, a Swedish fur farmer converted his fur farm into a solar farm in 2022. Fur farm workers can also transition to sustainable agricultural industries such as horticulture. These transitions align with the EU’s 2023–27 Common Agricultural Policy priority for a sustainable future and are eligible for funding through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the LIFE programme.

Read more:
Fact sheet Economic Decline of the Fur Industry
Fact sheet Employment and Retraining of Fur Farm Workers
Fur Free Europe Report (Eurogroup for Animals)


The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) report from 2001 has long been the cornerstone of animal welfare discussions about fur farming in the European Union. It highlighted the serious problems associated with the husbandry systems used for all species of animals reared for fur. Despite the clear findings and recommendations of this report, the fur farming industry has seen little change.

The European Commission is considering a request for a similar report by the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA) in response to the Fur Free Europe ECI (European Citizens Initiative). Another report would either echo the findings of the SCAHAW report, without bringing about any real change or call for a ban on this cruel practice. Both outcomes lead to the conclusion that fur farming should be banned.

The SCAHAW report clearly stated that the current husbandry systems cause ‘serious problems’ for all species of animals reared for fur. It recommended designing housing systems that fulfil the needs of the animals. Yet, two decades later, these recommendations have not been implemented on a large scale.

The time for reports is over. It is time for action.

The farming of mink and foxes for fur should already be prohibited in accordance with Council Directive 98/58/EC1 which says “No animal shall be kept for farming purposes unless it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype or phenotype, that it can be kept without detrimental effect on its health or welfare”.

The 1999 Council of Europe Recommendation Concerning Fur Animals states “No animal shall be kept for its fur if: a. the conditions of this Recommendation cannot be met, or if b. the animal belongs to a species whose members, despite these conditions being met, cannot adapt to captivity without welfare problems.”.

Both aim to protect animals kept for farming purposes, including those farmed for fur. They emphasise the need for housing, food, water, and care appropriate to the physiological and ethological needs of the animals. The farming of mink, foxes, and raccoon dogs fails to meet these standards, leading to unnecessary suffering.